Presentation Visuals


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  • Quotes
  • Charts that clearly show the point you want to make – and nothing else
  • Images that evoke the concept you want to get across or the feeling you want to instill
  • Your entire data set
  • All your bullet points (image from
  • Clip art
  • Slides are not documents!
  • If there’s a lot of data your listeners will want to take home, give them something to take home! Separate your handout from your slides.
  • Do you even need slides? Ask yourself, “Can I just get up in front of these people and talk, or am I hiding behind my visuals?”
  • Maybe you do need some visuals, but not for the entire talk. In PowerPoint and Keynote, you can press the B key while you’re presenting to go to a plain black screen. You don’t have to create filler slides if there is no visual appropriate to what you’re saying.
  • Guy Kawasaki is a frequent tech speaker. He says: If you need to put 8- or 10-point fonts up there it’s because you don't know your material. If you start reading your material because you do not know your material, your audience will figure out that you are a bozo. They're going to say to themselves, "This bozo is reading his slides. I can read faster than this bozo can speak. I will just read ahead.” // Everyone can read faster than you can speak. Don’t waste their time reading your slides aloud. You’re there to provide some interaction they can’t get in written material.
  • Let’s assume that you DO need some slides. If you’re not just going to read things off the screen, you’re really going to have to plan how you’re going to illustrate your points. Don’t just open up the application and start entering bullet lists.
  • Sketch things on paper or a whiteboard.
  • Use the light table view (called the slide sorter in Keynote) to lay out your main points as title slides, followed by the supporting slides for each section…
  • Or use Post-It notes to create your visual outline. You want to be able to move things around.
  • This is one of the default themes in PowerPoint. It’s one of the better ones. Look how much contrast there is, though. Look how much space is devoted to that white border, and how your attention is called to the bottom of the slide. Don’t feel like you need to include a logo or your name on every slide, especially if you’ve given your listeners a handout.
  • Here’s the matching content slide. Again, the border is taking up a huge amount of space and the contrast calls attention to the background. The information on this slide is going to get lost. You don’t need fussy backgrounds or borders.
  • Use solid colors, simple gradients, or unobtrusive patterns instead. Let YOUR message fill the slide.
  • Avoid pure white backgrounds in situations where the room’s lights will be dimmed. White is blinding.
  • Unless they’re in the front row, your listeners are going to be looking over people’s heads. Don’t put anything essential in the bottom 20% or so.
  • You’re designing for the back of the room. Not only is your slide NOT a document; it really needs to be a billboard.
  • How large should your text be? Figure out the average age of your audience and divide by two. That’s your minimum.
  • You don’t have to rely on different fonts or bullet points to create a hierarchy. With a single font, you can use color contrast, size, spacing, and indentation to give your points structure. If you space out your points, no one needs a bullet to indicate a new point.
  • This is a photo of Steve Jobs introducing the last iPhone update. Even when he’s using bullet points, there are no bullets. The spacing does the work. (Photo from Engadget)
  • Great article at 41Latitude: Google Maps and Label Readability. This is a wonderful article for those of you who need to superimpose text on a complex image.
  • This is the color wheel from Before & After magazine. The trick to using color effectively in slides is contrast… which we’ll talk about in just a moment.
  • You want high contrast between your text and your slide. This has a lot of contrast.
  • This doesn’t have as much, and it’ll be harder to read from the back of the room.
  • Adding a drop shadow helps a little.
  • This has even more contrast than the white – maybe so much that it’s uncomfortable.
  • Blue and yellow are opposites on the color wheel. This creates contrast. The lighter blue and darker blue are right next to each other; that’s too close. Not enough contrast.
  • This is a typical chart imported from Excel. In fact, I cleaned this up a bit. The original one had different fonts and a blinding white background. Let’s start removing all the non-essentials.
  • Since we have just one data series, we don’t need a legend.
  • Nor do we need the Y axis when each point is labeled. We can also dim those grid lines…
  • … or do away with them altogether.
  • We don’t need that big border around the whole chart, either, and we can reduce the contrast on the one we’re keeping.
  • Here I’ve also moved the points’ labels a little so they don’t overlap the trend line, and I’ve emphasized the last number in the series. This is pretty good. Of course, we need to decide if a graph is really the best way to convey this information.
  • Clip art
  • Putting a photo inside a frame diminishes it.
  • Go full screen. Everybody has a whole bunch of megapixels now, right? (Which slide really tells you how in-your-face Elena was being when I took this shot?)
  • Given the choice, go for simple images rather than complicated ones.
  • Same concept, but this brings it close.
  • I have no patience for fancy transitions. Animation calls attention to itself, which means it’s calling attention AWAY from your information.
  • However, there is one way to use transitions effectively. Here, we want to highlight the difference between these two numbers, so we’ll just fade into the next slide…
  • Let’s think about that birth rate chart again.
  • And sometimes, we don’t even need to see the first statistic. Maybe, in addition to the data, I have a survey in which the majority of women reported that they’d like more than one child, but felt pressured to start their careers first and then couldn’t have more than one, for whatever reason.
  • We don’t need a series of photos to tell that story. You don’t have to mess with Photoshop if you don’t feel like it. One evocative photo will do the trick.
  • Quotes
  • Don’t let the software dictate your choices. Master it.
  • Are there any questions?
  • Presentation Visuals

    1. 1. “ Stop your presentation before it kills again!” University Writing Center – Kathy Sierra
    2. 2. What belongs on a slide?
    3. 3. “ No more than six words on a slide. Ever.” – Seth Godin
    4. 7. What does not belong on a slide?
    5. 11. Slideuments
    6. 14. B
    7. 15. “ I can read faster than this bozo can speak.” – Guy Kawasaki
    8. 16. Planning
    9. 20. Layout
    10. 28. Text
    11. 30. ÷ 2
    12. 31. Baskerville
    13. 32. Bodoni
    14. 33. Caslon
    15. 34. Franklin Gothic
    16. 35. Garamond
    17. 36. Helvetica
    18. 37. Optima
    19. 38. Rockwell
    20. 39. <ul><li>What is most important? </li></ul><ul><li>What’s secondary? </li></ul><ul><li>And so on… </li></ul>
    21. 42. Color
    22. 44. Text
    23. 45. Text
    24. 46. Text
    25. 47. Text
    26. 49. Charts
    27. 63. Images
    28. 65. This is Elena.
    29. 66. This is Elena.
    30. 69. Special Effects
    31. 70. Life expectancy Men 75.4 Women 80.7
    32. 71. Life expectancy Men 75.4 Women 80.7
    33. 73. Birth rate, 1950: 3.65
    34. 74. Birth rate, 2010: 1.21
    35. 76. What is essential?
    36. 82. “ A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
    37. 84. ?